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Counseling Career Traits

Working conditions vary according to the type of career you want in counseling. School counselors may work a typical 40 hour week, while a psychiatric social worker may be "on call" 24 hours a day at certain times. Counselors must be adaptable to different work situations, and must be able to manage stress associated with heavy caseloads and the nature of their work. Successful counselors possess certain general personality traits:

  • Self knowledge: stress management, identifying and dealing with "burn out," maintaining a work-life balance, relationship between personal feelings and professional protocols, self assessment skills.
  • Interpersonal skills: patience, kindness, listening and communication skills, ability to observe and interpret body language, interpretive skills, sensitivity to diverse personalities, abilities and needs of clients.
  • Organizational skills: scheduling, time management, record keeping, maintaining licenses and certification, business management (if in private practice.)


Keep Going, and Keep Learning: Behind the Scenes in Counseling

You'll need much more than a kind heart and good listening skills to succeed in counseling. Counselors keep detailed records for each client, analyze and research complex issues, problems and situations, and comply with professional and governmental regulations and requirements. Counselors may work in challenging and hazardous situations within correctional facilities or psychiatric clinics and hospitals. Networking and teamwork are important skills, as counselors often work as part of a group when assisting individuals and organizations.

Most counseling positions require four year degrees or higher. Once you graduate, you will need to continue learning to keep up with developments in your field.


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


Related Career Resources

Counseling Colleges and Schools

Counseling Career Information

Counseling Career Outlook and Salary Information

How to Become a Counselor


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